Saturday, August 29, 2009
Andre James Delamare, 41, died on the way to hospital after being stabbed at around 6.40pm on Tuesday night in Olliviers Road . He was found only 200 metres from his own home.
In May Tala Seleni, 55, and Melissa Nina Adcock, 32, were found dead in their council flat on the same street
For more about the story see: here
Mr Delamare's death is thought to be the 46th such death this year in New Zealand.
Christchurch was also the scene of an Armed Offenders call out on Wednesday when they closed off Voss Street and Quinns Road to round up a man for 13 different offenses including alleged assaults, kidnapping and possession of a pistol. (The Press)
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Chris Jordan, father of Emily Jordan who drowned in a River Boarding 'accident' in New Zealand in April 2008 on Monday called for legislation to be introduced to govern river boarding in the country: (RadioNZ)
He has also stated he intends to lobby Prime Minister John Key (who is also Minister for Tourism) in order to
"Mr Jordan believes his daughter died because the industry was unregulated and Mad Dog River Boarding ran a "cowboy" operation.
He said resources must be found to govern the industry and called for stringent regulations introduced to stop another death from happening.
"It's not acceptable to say (New Zealand's) a small country, we don't have the resource to do it - because you're actually taking the money off individuals ... who believe that it's safe.
"So if you're prepared to take the money, you've got to have the safety procedures in place."
"highlight the need for "good quality legislation" to push for regulations to replace voluntary guidelines governing safety in extreme sports industries.Well, at least Mr Jordan didn't get the 'Castle-Hughes brush off'. We wish him well in his is endeavour, he's going to have an uphill battle on his hands.
When told that person was John Key, who is also the Prime Minister, Mr Jordan said he would be "the right person to talk to".
Staff in Mr Key's office said yesterday, when contacted, they could not comment on the issue, but Mr Jordan's concerns would be "welcome".
PR and Spin
NZ is very conscious of how it is perceived abroad, it may well be that Mr Jordan may achieve more on the international stage than he will within NZ.
It will be interesting to watch how this is 'spun' from now on, if a tight lid will be put on it all and New Zealanders close ranks on this.
The director of 'Mad Dog' Brad Mcleod is already supposed to have requested that media questions be "directed to a public relations company and said he would decide over the next week whether he would make a statement". So much for an industry that "can't afford" to invest money in safety.
South Island is presently holding the Winter Games NZ until 30 August and will be hosting the rugby world cup in 2011. Every effort is likely to be made to smooth out the adverse publicity this case has caused, more so because it's been announced that the tourism minister (aka John Key, the Prime Minister) is going to appear on the Late Show with David Letterman to "sell New Zealand to worldwide tourism'.
Is it just a coincidence that the 'Mad Dog' trial suddenly ended early with a plea bargain just 3 days before the triumphant PR announcement about the show was made? Call me a cynic but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if there had been some pressure to minimise any and all adverse publicity about tourism (there were two separate court hearings being held into deaths of young women in adventure sports in New Zealand) with the news about the Letterman show about to leak at any time. As they say, 'timing is everything'.
Other recent tourism related deaths (I won't include injuries and assaults right now because there are so many so see below) include
British man Thomas Donaldson who died after sand surfing in the Far North.
Chinese tourist Yan Wang, who drowned in a river when she became trapped beneath a jet boat.
British backpacker Sarah Katie Bond who fell 50m to her death in Waitomo after losing control of a hired quad bike.
Six NZ students and a teacher from Auckland's Elim College were swept to their deaths on a river canyoning trip in the Mangatepopo Gorge. (source NZ Herald)In June 2009 Massey Univesity's Dr Tim Bentley has said that the number of tourist adventure injuries in NZ rivals that of road injuries and that -
"statistics mean New Zealand is on its way to being regarded as an unsafe destination. "In the US and Japan, people are already being advised not to come here because of the dangers. Tourism is our principal industry and these accidents are making a massive impact....
There's also doubt about the ability of the Adventure Tourism industry to manage the risk to clients. "There are lots of small, unregulated companies out there with a seasonal workforce that comes and goes. There is also the danger that without the protection of ACC, people will start suing. In the US, travel companies have already been taken to court."
See: 'Tourist adventure injuries rival road injuries'
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
For more about the trial see: Emily Jordan
Mad Dog River Boarding were recently prosecuted in connection with the death of Emily Jordan who died whilst river boarding in New Zealand in April 2008 (see link above)
A few days into the trial a deal was struck and four of the six charges were dropped (including the sole charge against the company director Brad Mcleod) the company pleaded guilty to the remaining two. At the time of the trial the court was told that Mad Dog River Boarding was operating in a "regulatory vacuum".
It was initially thought that the investigation was to be carried out by the Dept of Labour because it did not fall under the remit of Maritime NZ, and that the coroner would be informed:
"Sergeant Steve Ereckson, of the Cromwell police, said the woman's body was taken to Dunedin, where a post-mortem will be carried out. Her death will be referred to the Coroner.
Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Clive Geddes said the area had had adventure tourism-related deaths in the past, and he did not think the impact on the resort town would be measured in visitor numbers. (Ed: a rather naive view)
"I think the impact is sympathy for the family involved," he said.
Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson said the organisation had offered help to the company involved, but river boarding did not fall under its responsibilities.The accident would be referred to the Department of Labour, he said."
But it was eventually Maritime New Zealand who brought the prosecution under Health and Safety in Employment legislation. Could it be that white water river boarding had slipped through the regulatory net until the time of Miss Jordan's death? it was only after she'd passed away that any River Boarding guidance was issued and that was by Maritime NZ after it instigated a review of the industry in late 2008, this is from their website, dated Nov 19 2008:
“Commercial river boarding and river sledging operations have been around since 1989, but they are still relatively under-represented activities in New Zealand. There are only a few operators throughout the country and, although each operation has had its own internal training system and operating plans, up until now there have not been any formal guidelines.
“Tapping into the expertise held by the rafting industry – which is comparatively far more established – is a good way to build up rescue knowledge and skills within the river boarding community.”
Mr Sonneveld says the developments are part of an industry-wide safety review that has been undertaken following the investigation into the death of English tourist Emily Jordan while river boarding on the Kawarau River in Queenstown on 29 April 2008. "
If there were 'no formal guidelines' does this also mean that there was no formal health and safety regulation either? it is unclear as to whether Mad Dog ever received a safety audit from a regulatory authority.
What was Emily's parents reaction to the outcome of the trial? This from a BBC Report:
"Ms Jordan's father Chris, who travelled to New Zealand for the hearing, said his family found it "offensive" that the company would face only fines.
He said: "We have lost a bright, compassionate, intelligent daughter. She was not drinking or messing about.
"Instead she was paying good money do something that had been promoted as good fun."
He called for greater regulation of extreme sports in New Zealand and said he was in contact with families of others who had died taking part in such activities in the country.
Miss Jordan's family also criticised the country's laws which meant the company did not need insurance and no inquest would necessarily be held into his daughter's death.
Speaking from the family home her mother, Sarah Jordan, said she did not feel justice had been done.
"Obviously, we have lost a daughter and a sister.
"It seems incredible there are no corporate manslaughter charges in New Zealand."
She said the family would campaign in New Zealand for extreme sports to be better regulated (Ed: we wish them every success with this, it's going to be a tough job)
"We want to raise the profile of the fact that no-one realises how dangerous how it is," Mrs Jordan said."
Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry for New Zealand so the resources do exist to bring adventure tourism and extreme sports up to standard. For too long "lack of money" has been used as an excuse for cutting corners. Add to that a situation where zero liability exists under the auspices of a no-fault accident provision under the ACC (New Zealand's Accident and Compensation Commission) rather than commercial insurance companies who would effectively 'weed out' businesses who don't make the grade, and it's easy to see why standards might slip.
The ACC is a Crown organisation that provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand. It is funded by levies on earnings, businesses’ payrolls, the cost of petrol and vehicle licensing fees as well as Government funding. The minister in charge is Nick Smith (who's also Minister for the Environment and for Climate Change Issues) His administrative support for is provided by the Dept of Labour.
A manslaughter trial started on the day the Mad Dog River Boarding case pleaded-out. It is being held in relation to the death of 21 year old Catherine Peters, who died from a fall from the Ballance Bridge Swing in the Manawatu Gorge, near Woodville. The world is watching as the prosecution of yet another adventure tourism death in New Zealand progresses through the courts. It's time to tighten up safety standards and restore confidence in the industry before tourists simply decide to go to countries that are less likely to kill them.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Some other recent Glenfield related crimes include the stabbing murder of Paul Chong in View Road, a group of teenagers who were attacked and their car damaged on Glenfield Road, a gang of 4 young thugs from the suburb who beat-up two young couples in Milford and Takapuna and an Iranian buisness owner left in a coma and with severe facial wounds after an attack in Wairau Road.
Mad Dog River Boarding has been fined substantially less than the maximum penalty of $250,000 per offence - just $33,000 on each of the two charges. From the Southland Times:
A deal was struck on Friday which resulted in four of the charges being dropped and the company pleading guilty to the remaining two.
"Adventure tourism company Mad Dog River Boarding has been fined $66,000 and ordered to pay $80,000 in reparation to the family of drowned British tourist Emily Jordan.
Ms Jordan, 21, drowned after getting trapped beneath a rock while on a trip with the company in April last year.
Parent company Black Sheep Adventures Ltd yesterday pleaded guilty to Health and Safety in Employment Act charges, which were brought by Maritime New Zealand.
This morning, Judge Brian Callaghan fined the company $33,000 on each of the two charges.
He found that the company failed to take six practicable steps to protect employees and customers, noting the whitewater environment in which it operated did not minimise its liability.
"The more risky the situation, the more care operators need to take."
The company was also ordered to pay the Jordan family $80,000 in reparation, however this amount was covered by insurance held by the company."
Otago Daily Times, 25 August
"The grieving father of a 21-year-old woman killed while river boarding on the Kawarau River is calling for actual regulations and stringent safety standards to be imposed on adventure tourism operators.
Emily Louise Jordan (21) died on April 29 last year when she was trapped underwater against a rock for 20 minutes.
Queenstown adventure tourism company Black Sheep Adventures Ltd, trading as Mad Dog River Boarding, pleaded guilty in the Queenstown District Court yesterday to two Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 charges relating to not taking all "practicable steps" to ensure the safety of Ms Jordan and other customers on that day.
A charge of not ensuring employees' safety and three related charges against the company's managing director, Brad McLeod, were withdrawn.
The Maritime New Zealand prosecution of Black Sheep Adventures and Mr McLeod began last week, with all charges originally being defended.
In a statement yesterday after the plea change, Mr Jordan asked for changes to the adventure tourism industry in New Zealand.
"Emily died unnecessarily," he said.
Mr Jordan stopped short of asking for river boarding to be banned, but hoped for changes to ensure such adventure tourism companies were forced to operate the standards expected in "a respected western country".
Although he accepted most operators would follow guidelines, he said enforceable regulations and safety auditing would ensure all commercial activities offered as fun were also as safe as possible.
Although New Zealand was a "small country", he said operators could be levied to fund enforcement checks.
"They [companies] are taking money from people for these things - why can't the money [to regulate and enforce regulations] be taken from that."
He said Ms Jordan had enjoyed water sports such as sailing, swimming and water skiing all her life and for her to die in water had been a shock to the family.
Refusing to call them "life jackets", he had seen the buoyancy aids given to clients on Mad Dog River Boarding trips and felt they were "not fit for purpose".
He said a proper life jacket was required for such an extreme activity, complete with a groin strap to prevent them being pulled off over an unconscious person's head, as happened during the attempt to rescue Ms Jordan while she was trapped in white water on the Kawarau.
They also needed to be more buoyant - evidence presented to Judge Brian Callaghan over the course of the four days of prosecution evidence suggested Ms Jordan had been between 1m and 1.5m under the surface of the water.
"With adequate buoyancy you don't go under the water," Mr Jordan said.
Some even had inbuilt ropes.
Guidelines drawn up in the months after Ms Jordan's death require all river boarding operations to carry ropes.
Mr Jordan said the evidence of former Mad Dog operations manager Nicholas Kendrick had been "very upsetting to sit through" and there seemed to be a "problem" with guides seeking greater thrills, forgetting the clients were not as experienced as themselves.
He stopped short of calling for river boarding to be banned as he did not want to be a "killjoy" and knew it was "unrealistic".
"I want to offer something constructive," he said.
He praised the Maritime New Zealand investigation, but said it would be better to be more proactive and suggested if insurance was required, rather than the ACC system, perhaps insurance companies would "act as quasi police".
Mad Dog River Boarding pleaded guilty on two charges, the maximum penalty for each offence is $250,000.
"Owners of leaky houses in New Zealand are struggling to fund repairs to their rotting homes as controversy over the government's proposal to deal with the problem grows...
For those considering buying property in New Zealand, Glenn Slaughter, an estate agent in the country had some advice. "Any property that a purchaser is considering buying in New Zealand should be made subject to getting a building check from an approved building company," he said.
"They can also provide a moisture reading to make sure that the property is not above the acceptable level."He gave warning that many people had bought properties in haste, especially at auction, only to find out that they had purchased a leaky home.
"Some properties are able to be repaired but some have had to be pulled down. Unlike Britain, most New Zealand homes (even brick) are built over a timber framing. If moisture gets into this framing of the house it may be too late to repair and this is when the building itself becomes worthless," he said."Weather conditions and building practices are very different to the UK, and permanent material homes may be not be as permanent as English folk would expect."
If you are thinking about purchasing a property in New Zealand be sure to have a full and proper inspection carried out and make it a condition of the sale that the report be satisfactory. Do not, under any circumstances, take the selling agent's advice not to have one done and do NOT use someone that they recommend.
Unfortunately many migrants are unaware of the massive extent of the leaky building disaster in New Zealand, even though it has been very much in the news for the last few years. A recent estimate is that it would cost the country $11.5 billion dollars to repair all its leaky homes, that's approximately 10% of the country's GDP. Don't let a significant chunk of it come out of your pocket!
If you are emigrating to NZ and want to do some reading about this before you part with your cash take a look at reports here and look at devastating effects that it is having on the lives of so many people. This is the story of one British family who emigrated from Britain eight years ago and was recently published in the New Zealand Herald -by Anne Gibson:
"Wilna White and her family are migrants who became leaky-building victims.So has much changed for incoming migrants since the Whites arrived eight years ago? it would seem not, immigrants are still being seen as naive or easy targets and "stitched up" accordingly (also by Anne Gibson):
After a nine-year struggle which is yet to end, she wants to warn other migrants of the dangers of buying a New Zealand house.
Paul and Wilna White lived in the English village of Barton-le-Clay outside Luton and worked in London, arriving here in December 2001.
The family loved Auckland's beaches and bought a house at Whangaparaoa. They dealt with a licensed real estate agent.
Soon after buying, they discovered severe weather-tightness issues and the rot was so bad that a child fell part-way through an exterior deck.
The couple have fought for eight years to get compensation, claiming $475,000 in a Weathertight Homes Tribunal case. But earlier this year, they got just $173,000 and have appealed the decision.The tribunal awarded the Whites $121,000 from Lorelle Kerkin as the sole trustee of an estate that sold them the house at 6 Castaway Place, and $52,000 from Rodney District Council, which signed it off.
Mrs White said the past eight years had been a nightmare. She has been robbed of annual holidays because dealing with the leaky-house issue has taken up all her spare time.
Mrs White warned that migrants were in danger of being tricked."
"Immigrants are being saddled with leaky homes, unwittingly buying into our national disaster, says a Remuera real estate agent.For more information on weather tightness including what to look for when purchasing a property
Steve Koerber of Barfoot & Thompson has pointed the finger at vendors and other real estate agents, saying there is a lack of information about houses.
John Gray of the Homeowners and Buyers Association agreed that some agents were reluctant to let potential buyers know of weather-tightness issues, but an agency boss has rejected criticism.
Bryan Thomson, Harcourts chief executive, said agents were upfront if they were made aware of leaks. But not all vendors told agents about leak issues, he said.
Mr Koerber said migrants were particularly at risk because so many were unaware of the dangers of buying a New Zealand house. "I have a big problem with the fact that hundreds of new immigrants and some locals are literally stitched up into potentially leaky or actually leaky homes. Their eyes are wide shut and some owners and agents are genuinely relieved to find them," Mr Koerber said."
see 'Information for homeowners' on the Department of Building and Housing's web site.
See other posts on this issue here: Leaky homes
Monday, August 24, 2009
On the day that the trial of Mad Dog river boarding was so very neatly wrapped up another trial started into the circumstances surrounding another adventure tourism related death in New Zealand.
Catherine Peters, an 18 year old student in her first year of a veterinary degree at Massey University died in March from injuries sustained when she fell 20 metres from the Ballance Bridge in the Manawatu Gorge, near Woodville. She was participating in a commercially-run bridge swing exercise with Massey University's alpine club, organised by Crag Adventures.
In March the director of Crag Adventures, Alistair McWhannell 47, from Palmerston North was charged with manslaughter.
Today at Palmerston North District Court a depositions hearing was told "she did not jump from the bridge, but was thrown by request, and the man charged with causing her death through carelessness was one of those who threw her." (source 3News) The Crown said that Mr McWhannell "had overseen 80 jumps from the bridge (and) failed to take proper care with Ms Peters' second jump" (Source Radio New Zealand)
According to a report on the news site Stuff.co.nz the court was also told that bridge swing was dangerous in that "the rope was allegedly too long and not tied off properly."
The hearing is expected to run for the next 4 days.
Please take some time to listen to his very articulate comments and recommendations in a Radio NZ interview link:
The company is liable for a maximum fine of $250,000 on each of the two charges and sentencing will take place on Tuesday.
See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan
The people of Papanui and the friends and relatives of 15 year old Marie Davis will rest a little easier today after a guilty verdict was given out to Dean Stewart Cameron, 39 who raped and murdered the schoolgirl in April of last year.
Marie's unclothed body was found face down in the Waimakariri river, north of Christchurch on 17 April, 11 days after she disappeared from her home whilst her family were away.
Cameron has a previous conviction for rape and the Crown has asked for an open-ended preventive detention sentence. He is to be remanded in custody pending reports.
During the trial it emerged that Cameron had been present at Marie's
friend's house and had heard Marie saying that she was going to be on her own at home.
For more please see Courtnews.co.nz
UPDATE 24 August 2009:
Dean Stewart Cameron was sentenced today to preventive detention for Marie's murder. The judge said it was despicable that Cameron had shown no remorse for the crime. More here: Schoolgirl's killer sentenced.
See other posts about the trial here: Emily Jordan
Emily's father Chris Jordan is in New Zealand attending the trial. Before he left England he told Worcestershire local newspaper The Shuttle
"that the family want to see changes to the health and safety laws in New Zealand to better protect people who take part in extreme sports.Our condolences on the passing of Emily go out to her family and friends and to Mr Jonathan Armour and his family. May her death not have been in vain.
“We also want to see an inquest, which we haven’t seen yet,” Mr Jordan told the paper last week.
The Jordan family have set up a charity, The Emily Jordan Foundation, to “help individuals with moderate learning and physical disabilities to lead fulfilled lives”.
For background see:
Riverboarding company operating in a regulatory vacuum
Rescue approach "ill educated"
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Time to get tough on the causes of crime. Want to send out a really strong message to the community? catch those responsible and impose stiff sentences. In the meantime launch a honest campaign to warn visitors about the risks present in NZ so that they're not sitting ducks - savvy consummers are nothing to be afraid of. A false image makes visitors vulnerable, use incidents like these to highlight the dangers and tell people they need to be as street-wise in NZ as in any other Western country with a high crime rate.
The attack took place at Te Paki, at the foot of 90 Mile Beach a popular tourist location about 100 km away from the campsite at Ahipara where French Tourist Anthony Cressend was beaten up shortly after arrival.
Other recent high profile attacks in the region have included at least 2 sex attacks attacks at Haruru Falls near Paihia in the Bay of Isands - one an horrific sexual assault on a 27 year-old English tourist and the other a young Dutch couple on their honeymoon who were raped, assaulted and robbed kidnapped by men posing as police officers.
Keith Anthony McEwen, 30, and Christopher Mana Manuel, 27, the men who kidnapped and robbed the Dutch couple at Haruru Falls whilst posing as police officers were only sentenced to 10 and 6 year non parole periods respectively.
McEwen had previous convictions for a $300,000 burglary at the Kelly Tarlton museum in Waitangi, aggravated robbery, firearms and various other theft and dishonesty offences. Was his sentence sufficient for a repeat offender, should a three strikes and you're out rule be adopted in New Zealand? unfortunately the country already has the 'second highest imprisonment rate in the Western World.' the majority of it for Violence, Sexual and Property Crimes.
At Whangarei Falls two American men Patrick Dykstra and Kelsey McGinley were sleeping in what they thought was a safe location when 4 men dragged them from their vehicle beat them up and robbed them.
"The Far North community must send a strong message that it won't tolerate the type of cowardly attack experienced yesterday by three Chinese tourists near Te Paki, says Labour Tourism Spokesperson Kelvin Davis.
The three tourists who stopped to assist two men they believed had broken down were set upon in an abhorrent ambush
"The incident has left the group shocked and stunned, and is another in a string of attacks on tourists in the Far North over the last few years. Their faith in New Zealand has been shattered," Kelvin Davis said.
"These idiots just don't seem to realise that our culture tells us to care for our manuhiri not bash them, or that they are stuffing things up for family and friends involved in Northland's tourism industry.
"Someone will know who these guys are or would have seen their red or maroon station wagon with fishing rods sticking out the windows. Someone up North will know them, and for the sake of maintaining New Zealand's reputation in the eyes of both these and other tourists, the police need to be informed of their whereabouts.
"Tourism is New Zealand's biggest export earner. One in ten New Zealanders are employed because of the tourism industry, and it is vital in the job-poor North.
"The number of Chinese tourists visiting New Zealand has dropped significantly over the last year because of the global recession and the swine flu pandemic. We need to encourage more tourists to visit New Zealand and the Far North, so we can support our families and friends to make an honest dollar through the opportunities tourism presents.
"We can do that by demonstrating manaakitanga to manuhiri and by speaking out strongly and forcefully against those who disrespect this tikanga," Kelvin Davis said."
4 International tourists (backpackers) robbed at gunpoint at Kerosene Creek
'False image makes visitors vulnerable'